The Impact Of COVID-19 On Immigration Policy

The Impact Of COVID-19 On Immigration Policy

The United States is about six months away from a new government administration, and the hot-button issue of immigration reform will likely take the spotlight from now until well after the presidential elections. The need for comprehensive immigration reform is more pressing now that it has ever been. There are multiple reasons why reform has been elusive; most of them are political, but now we have the reality of the COVID-19 pandemic that should be added to the mix.

Political analysts often talk about the difficulty of setting aside the political lens when reviewing matters of extreme importance; however, there is a clear need to do so now, and we can cite a specific situation experienced by Prime Minister Boris Johnson of the United Kingdom earlier this year. After testing positive for coronavirus, PM Johnson was transferred to intensive care at St. Thomas Hospital in London. Upon his release, he gave thankful praise to the two medical professionals who cared for him, and who happened to be immigrants from Portugal and New Zealand.

PM Johnson seems to be softening his line of thinking about immigration in the UK. He plans to keep borders open as long as the pandemic remains, and he plans to offer a path to residency and citizenship to immigrant essential workers; these measures would run counter to the Brexit philosophy, but they are grounded in the new reality of living with the new coronavirus.

In the U.S., the White House has reacted to the coronavirus pandemic with immigration policies and practices that have not only defied logic but have caused public health issues. At detention centers managed by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, testing for COVID-19 has fallen far from generally accepted guidelines. At least one corrections employee has died from COVID-19 complications, and the public does not trust data coming from detention centers.

Under the guise of public health measures, President Donald Trump initially wanted an immediate freeze on all immigration during the pandemic; he cited a need to ensure that unemployed Americans would have increased job opportunities in the future. In the end, Trump settled for numerous limits on immigration instead of an outright ban, but he has made life very difficult for foreigners living in the U.S. After a short period in which deportations and removals were suspended, government officials in Guatemala and El Salvador have complained that deported migrants are being returned with advanced COVID-19.

The U.S. immigration system has been broken for more than a decade, but it has become a total disaster during the Trump administration. It is time for government officials to learn from the aforementioned experienced lived by the British Prime Minister because the pandemic will not make immigration problems go away; it will only make them worse. For more information click here

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